A Sad Story

I mean, I don’t even know where to begin with this story.  It completely shocked me.  It has to do with my place of employment and what one of my fellow employees is having to deal with right now.  This woman who I have worked with countless times, even on night shift, was diagnosed with a giant brain tumor covering half the side of her brain.  She was having trouble moving one whole side of her body, and a CAT scan revealed what was something that nobody ever wants to hear.  A big, giant brain tumor.  I can say I know how she feels, given I had a brain tumor and subsequent treatment, but I did not have a brain tumor anywhere near that size.  She is an older woman, in her mid 50s I assume, although she never directly told me how old she was.  She was one of the nicest people there, and my heart aches for her in so many ways.  This is yet another example that we never know what is going to happen to us until it actually happens.

I haven’t spoken with her yet, but I can imagine she is in shock.  Her husband supposedly came into the store yesterday and informed our store manager that she has this tumor and will not be coming back.  Thinking about this brings my eyes to tears because I know what it feels like to worry about what is going to happen to you when going through a serious illness that could ultimately kill you.  I, of course, didn’t have as severe a problem that she does, due to the size and effects of her tumor, but I certainly can empathize with how she must feel.  Out of everyone that works at my place of employment, I feel that I know the most what she is going through.  And I sure hope she fights that damn thing until it is eradicated.  And if she fails, she fails.  But fighting this battle is worth it, no matter the result.

Beating cancer or a tumor is something that survivors can share with other cancer patients.  The fact that we have beaten this terrible disease and lived to talk about it is a wonder in itself.  Not all cancers are as serious as brain cancer, but cancer in itself is a pathological being.  It ravages our healthy cells and grows and grows until we can stop it.  The only advantage to having a brain cancer is the fact that unless it gets into the spinal fluid, there is absolutely no chance it can get into the body.  However, body cancer can get into the brain.  So, it would seem that at least in her case, the situation is contained, most likely.  I don’t know all the details, but the outlook is probably not as optimistic as it was for myself.  Although my cancer was almost inoperable, we found a surgeon who could operate so deep into the brain and could at least find out what it was.  I’m sure it will be easier to operate on this woman’s tumor, but it will be much harder to repair the damage caused already.  I don’t really know what to say about this to her, except I want her to fight and do whatever it takes to survive.  You’ll learn how strong you are and how even something this serious won’t get you down.  But I truly don’t know how serious it is as of yet, other than the fact that it is covering one side of the brain and is affecting her nervous system.

I guess this is a lesson in the uncertainty of life and how you can be struck with something life-altering at any moment.  I know that from experience.  I just believe that those who can survive will survive and those who cannot bear their disease will ultimately die.  It all comes down to acceptance of your situation and deciding whether or not you wish to fight the good fight or give up.  Someone of my age at the time of my tumor (16), had every right to believe this would not be my undoing.  I knew I would make it out of this a stronger and better person.  But someone in their later years, who has lived a good life and has enjoyed good experiences and think that they don’t want to know what their life will be like after the good fight may end up just giving up.  It is truly up to the individual.  The result may differ, but choosing to fight or give up is something that very well may affect our results in a profound way.  Even in failure, at least we tried our best.

I was determined to rid my body of this tumor.  I hope that my co-worker has the same determination I had when faced with something that could have ultimately killed me.  You will be in my thoughts and prayers.  Best of luck to you.

Who Really Has All the Answers?

I still don’t know how or why the sun is so bright and how or why anything happens.  You can give scientific explanations, but that doesn’t cover the why.  You can give pseudo-spiritual answers in vague terms, but that just doesn’t do it for me.  You can make your reality whatever it is you want it to be, but there will still be so many unanswered questions.  Even if you think you have all the answers, you are wrong.  How can you truly know anything for sure?  You can believe you are certain about something, but how certain are you that you are actually certain?  You can say something like, “I am certain that if I do this, this will happen.”  And you could be right.  You also could be wrong.  But right and wrong are human terms.  They were invented, like everything else.  Even these words I type here were invented for my use.  If I were to give this blog entry to a dog, he would probably eat it.  There would be no thought to what it means or the ideas presented.

We want to know, though, don’t we?  We want to know what is out there.  We want to know how this reality works.  But the simple fact is that we don’t know the majority of how and why this world and this universe works the way it does.  And we’ll never know everything.  It is impossible to know everything.  Well, not impossible, but it will take billions and billions of years and a time machine to truly know everything.  But everything is everything that ever happened, is happening now, is happening elsewhere, at every time and every place in the known universe.  That could take awhile to gain knowledge of and even then, we would have more and more information to add to the pile every nanosecond that goes by.  Wouldn’t that be an exhausting task?  And wouldn’t it be a complete time sink?

What we are truly searching for is the core of our existence.  Why are we here?  What is the purpose of all of this?  But how are we to discover that purpose?  Even if we think we have discovered it, we could be dead wrong.  It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  We find the answers we want to find and disregard the rest.  We become whatever it is we truly are.  Where we seek, we find.  And it’s not a complete picture, but it is certainly more settling than complete and utter uncertainty.  It is better to believe in something than it is to just spend your life believing nothing.  It is a bit of a shortcut to easing our pain of unraveling the existence conundrum.  We choose to believe in whatever we most feel is close to our experiences.  We try to have our beliefs be congruent with what it is that we see, hear, smell, etc.

I don’t truly think there is an omniscient god out there.  There is just way too much information to take in and it would be impossible to know everything.  Although, on different levels, other than our own, I’m sure that the spiritual world has a better grasp on reality than we do as a small planet in the corner of the universe.  I can’t say for sure what happens in that other world, but they seem to have much more wisdom due to extraordinarily more experience than us lowly humans.  They have seen whole galaxies crash and burn, entire solar systems wiped out.  It is a more holistic perspective.  Even if they do not have all the answers, they certainly have more than we do.  Much, much more.  We are just here for a short time and we go away, either to the spirit world or we rot in the ground, or both.

But believing we do nothing more than rot in the ground is a dead end, literally.  There is nothing more to experience after death.  It is a pointless perspective, and a very fear-creating one.  To think that this is the only life we have, ever, would place importance on survival and staying away from anything potentially dangerous.  But to believe that we will “return” to the spirit world after we die is a bit more comforting and exciting than rotting in the ground.  Sure, our bodies will rot regardless, but a part of us, our spirit or soul, will go to a place where we are around other spirits, or to a place where we are all one.  Although we won’t know the exact nature of this place until we are actually dead, we tend to have some idea of what it will be like.  And we will remember why we were here on Earth and gain some insight into what the hell is going on here and what it all means.

Will we have all the answers then?  Who knows?  It could even be a complete fallacy.  We could just rot in the ground.  But that would make our lives pretty much meaningless up against the test of time.  What would be the point of living and then dying for no purpose whatsoever after the world or solar system or galaxy is burnt out and destroyed?  It is hardly inspiring material.  And it doesn’t cover the why of anything either.  There would be no reason for all of this here, it is simply dead particles floating around.  As Descartes put it, “The scream of an animal being tortured is no different than the ringing of a bell.”  Nothing would truly matter in the long, long run.

So, I believe it helps to think that we are here for a reason, even if we do not have all the answers we seek.  And it is entirely possible we will never get all the answers or even a fraction of them.  But the main thing is that we are still growing.  We are opening our minds and our souls to new and interesting ideas that may or may not prove to be true.  Perhaps one day the veil will come off and the truth will be revealed to us.  It definitely helps to lean in that direction than to just proclaim, “There is no God, no afterlife, no anything other than what is here right now.”  It is extremely rigid and disempowering to just say that things like life after death in a spiritual form is impossible and not going to happen.  How much would that trivialize your own existence?

But as I said before, seek and you shall find.  If you are looking for evidence for no life after death, you will find it.  If you are looking for evidence of a spirit world, you will find it as well.  A self-fulfilling prophecy.  What you should truly see is what makes the most sense to you deep down in your soul, consciousness, or whatever you want to call it.  Being is another word for it.  Do you truly feel that you are something more than just a human being, or do you have low self-esteem and think that all you’ll ever be is a body and a mind?  The choice is up to you.  The answers are yours to find.  Whether through this life or in the spirit life, there are answers waiting for you.

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Certainty

I believe that certainty is far more powerful than doubt when it comes to beliefs.  I not only believe this, but have experienced it firsthand.  If you pursue something with certainty that it will manifest, then you are far more likely to have it become.  Doesn’t that make sense?  If you want to be skeptical about your future, then you will get what I would call skeptical results.  If you exude certainty, then you will breed certain results that you can discern.  I would like to give you a personal example of this:

When I was 16, I found out I had a malignant brain tumor in a very difficult place to operate in.  This tumor was pinching off one of my ventricles in the brain, causing a condition known as hydrocephalis.  That is, buildup of fluid in the brain.  That is, excruciating and debilitating headaches.  That is, permanent brain damage.  I was 16 years old and perfectly healthy before that happened, with nothing more than an ear infection and strep throat in my medical records.  But this brain tumor blindsided me.  It was and still is the defining moment in my life.  Being diagnosed with such a serious illness at such a young age changed me for life.  It made me stronger, and a better person.

It was not easy to overcome this brain cancer, but I had supportive family on my side.  My mother went to the ends of the Earth to find a surgeon who would operate on me.  Luckily, the surgeon was only around an hour away, in Boston, MA.  I was in such pain then, for around 6 months prior to the extensive 9.5 hour brain surgery that actually split the two halves of my brain open and took a piece of the tumor out.  It is appropriate to say that this had to be, bar none, the worst day of my life.  Swollen brain, swollen eyes, severe headaches that could not even be remedied by morphine.  Welcome to my hell.

Luckily, even though it was found that I had brain cancer and that it was a malignant tumor, it turns out it was one of the most curable cancers out there, with roughly a 99% success rate.  I had no idea because I didn’t even know I had cancer.  Seriously.  I only found out after the surgery that I indeed had cancer.  Before, it was just a lesion, a growth.  Now it become real.  Cancer.  But it was the best kind of cancer.  Malignant pineal gland germinoma is the technical term, but let’s just say it was a blessing in disguise.  I went through 30 days of radiation, which the doctors and oncologist said would melt the tumor and I would be free of cancer within two months.  Sure enough, that is what happened.  I can’t say that I was surprised, though.

In all of these ordeals with brain cancer, I never for one minute did not think I was going to come out of it.  Not once.  I knew in my mind that I was going to beat this brain problem and be just fine.  I never let myself get down about it, nor did I even think of death or having severe problems after surgery.  Sure, I may have minor problems that are a molehill compared to the mountain I was facing then.  But the main key here is that I knew in my bones that this cancer was not going to beat me up.  I was healthy, I was strong, I was committed to getting better.  That’s what I thought about.  Getting better.  I was just waiting for the day when I was feeling better.  I would not stop until I felt better, felt normal or at least close to it.

I have my battle scars to prove my story.  I even have a bald spot on the back of my head and a window-like gash that shows where they cut my head open.  I have my thin hair to prove I went through radiation and my inability to look up to prove that my tumor was putting pressure on the pineal gland, whose one of many functions is to control eye movement.  Those days of severe suffering are over now.  Sure, I may have bad days here and there, but for the most part, I have felt pretty great in the last 7.5 years, although I still do get headaches and eye problems.  But I am by far way more functional than ever before and thank God I still have my amazing intelligence.

The point here is that I knew that I would get better.  I knew it.  It wasn’t a question.  It was a certainty.  I would have fought this cancer until it was eradicated.  I was not going to give up on my life just because of a small, pea-sized lesion in my brain.  I wasn’t going to let something that small hold me back.  I took a few risks, like an extensive brain surgery, and radiation treatment, but it is better to have tried to get better than to stay the way you are.  Even if the risk was permanent brain damage, because I was already suffering so much that I knew this was my only option to living a productive and meaningful life.  I took the steps I needed to take to ensure that I would get better.  I wasn’t going to chalk it up to chance.  I wanted to get better bad enough that I was willing to bring myself through potentially debilitating treatments to overcome my ailments and once again become who it is I was meant to be.

So, if some goal you set for yourself seems daunting, just think of what you would do if you were diagnosed with cancer.  Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to get better?  Wouldn’t you seek until you found?  Wouldn’t you learn a whole lot about yourself that you didn’t previously know?  So why don’t we pursue our regular goals with such drive, such passion?  Maybe because they aren’t as urgent?  Or maybe because we are scared.  But fear is not something somebody like me lets control their life.  I prefer certainty.  If I say I’m going to do something, I do it, or at least give it my best shot.  And when I say best shot, I mean best shot, not some half-assed attempt.  To have certainty in your heart, you must create it.  Sure, some things are out of your control, but if you truly believe something is going to happen for you and you put in the necessary work, it will happen.  You just have to use overwhelming force and drive to achieve what it is you are wanting.

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Hope

Is hope inherently dangerous or is it helpful?  Well,we could start by looking at the definition.  Hope means to cherish a desire with anticipation.  I’m not sure that is entirely accurate, though.  Hope is more of a wanting of something that you have no or little control over, such as “I hope the war comes to an end,” or “I sure hope I get that promotion.”  It places the outcome on external events and not in your control, so is it empowering or disempwering?  To hope for something is to divert control away from yourself and to place it on something that is not you.  I find hope to be incredibly naive and childish, but it is helpful to those who truly believe they have no control and have to rely on all these external things going right to have what they hope for come true.

You can spend your time hoping or you can spend your time creating.  When you are creating the life you want, hope is not a part of it.  You are taking the steps to create what it is you want.  You aren’t sitting around, waiting for things to snap into place.  Even if your attempts are not perfect, you can calibrate them later.  The most important step here is action, not hoping something will just happen for you.  Hope is almost like a wish.   “I wish I won the lottery.”  Hope is a fleeting emotion, always in the back of our minds, but never fully present.  It is always fixated on the future, and what may happen.  It is a fantasy for the most part, simply because it hasn’t happened yet.  You are far better off with certainty than hope.  Certainty is king when it comes to actually getting what it is you want.

On the other end of the spectrum is hopelessness.  Is that better or worse than hope?  I would say that hopelessness can either be truly realistic or completely false based on your experiences.  If you are living in a third world country and live on less than $1 a day, it makes perfect sense to be hopeless when it comes to your future life, because what are the odds you will instantly become a millionaire or start your own business?  Very low.  But if you are given tons of opportunities every day to excel and succeed, why would you ever be hopeless?  Sure, the world may be going to hell, but that doesn’t mean you have to as well.  You can still live your life with purpose and find plenty of meaning in life.  There is no law that says you can’t.  You can have a little hope, but no more, no less.  A little hope is slightly better than having too much or no hope at all.

But having a little hope has to be rooted in reality.  You have to actually believe what it is you are hoping for.  You have to be on the right track towards who it is you hope to become.   None of this sitting around, hoping something will just happen for you.  You need to be an active participant in your life in order to actually attain what it is you are wanting.  What bothers me is that most people choose to remain stuck in Fantasyland.  They are not actively pursuing what it is they want, so how in the world could they still expect it to come to them?  You have to put in the work and be committed, otherwise the universe will conclude you don’t really want what it is you say you want.

Like I’ve said before, you are the author of your own life.  Nobody else is going to solve all your problems for you, attain all your goals.  Hope may serve as a motivator, but don’t use it as a goal-achieving mechanism on its own.  Just hoping some situation will get better on its own is pure delusion.  You have to, at some point, put in the work to make things the way you want them to be.  You are simply a creative being that was placed here on Earth to create whatever it is you desire to the extent of your beliefs and the world around you.  You are capable of doing great things, doing bad things, or doing nothing.  It is all your choice.  Every action we take is a choice.  Every inaction we take is a choice.

I’m not slamming hope here, just putting it in its proper context.  When you are truly on the right track towards your goals, you don’t need to hope for them to happen, you realize that the achievement is an inevitability.  You know deep down in your heart that you will achieve whatever it is you set out to do because you have actually put in the work to achieve your goal, not just sat around visualizing what it would be like.  You may have done that in the beginning, but you knew that action was required.  For those of you who think visualizing a million dollars in your bank account is going to make you an instant millionaire, I have news for you, stop sitting around and find a way to make that money actually get there.  Otherwise, the only way you’ll have that much in your account is through a bank error.  Which means it won’t be there for long.  If you truly want to lose 40 lbs., do you really think it is going to happen overnight because you imagined yourself at your ideal weight?  Or you hoped it would just melt off in the shower?

Instead of the word hope, let’s replace it with want.  If you want something to happen, you make it happen.  You intend for it to happen.  You take the necessary steps for it to happen.  You don’t sit around and hope it will happen because you’ll be waiting forever if you don’t actually do something about it.  Even if the problem is large, like world hunger, you can take steps to better the situation and keep moving up the ladder.  Even if you don’t solve the whole problem of starving people, you will have fed thousands, maybe even millions by the time you leave this Earth.  That will be a gigantic net positive effect on the Earth.  It won’t come from hoping the problem is solved, it will be from you taking direct action towards creating what you want.

This may take some time, possibly even your entire lifetime, to work hard at your goals in pursuit of achieving them, but think about how you will feel about your life at the end vs. how you would feel if you spent your whole life hoping these things would happen for you.  Even if you fail at every goal you try to achieve, at least you gave it your best shot instead of wondering what could have been.  You learned much more about yourself than you could ever from visualizations and journaling.  You actually went out into the world and lived.  You’ve lived a life they make movies about, not a life where you’re simply an extra.  Become what it is you truly know you can be.  Don’t just imagine who it is you want to be, get up and make it happen.  And even if you don’t fully succeed, you will still find the experience far more rewarding than doing nothing.  Believe me, we are nothing without our experiences.

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Waiting to Be Saved

Wanting to be saved is one of the most disempowering mindsets I have ever seen.  You see it in religion.  You see it in people who are waiting for someone to come in and have somebody or something else solve all their problems for them.  You see it in people who think winning the lottery will solve everything overnight.  Wanting to be saved is just stupid.  I’m sorry.  Putting your faith in anyone or anything other than yourself to be saved is just dumb.  For those of you who truly believe The Rapture is coming, I would advise you to stop reading now because no offense, but the Rapture is just your naive attempt to think that everything is going to be okay just because you take the Bible word for word.  If Christ was really coming back, wouldn’t he have come by now to save all the believers?  He said something like, “This generation shall not pass and I will be back.”  Stop waiting for that bus and start walking people.

If you want to be saved, you’re going to have to save yourself.  You can ask for help, but the majority of the legwork is going to have to be done by you.  That is just a fact.  You have to make the moves to get where it is you want to be, not fate or chance.  People who want to be rescued are purposely and exclusively playing the victim role.  Why would anyone ever do that to themselves?  Because it’s easy.  It requires almost no effort to play the victim, but it requires a ton of effort to play the rescuer.  And you are your own rescuer.  Like I said, you can accept help, but don’t expect someone to reassemble your life for you.  They have their own lives to work on.  They can’t sit there and baby step you all the way to your better life.  This isn’t kindergarten anymore.

Take authority over your own life.  You are in charge here.  It is your life to live and your consequences to bear, so why not make it a better life?  Don’t spend your time sitting around waiting for salvation when you could be creating what it is you desire right now if you would only get off your ass and get moving.  What is it that is holding you back?  Your job?  Your spouse?  Just because those around you wish to play the victim  role does not mean you have to do so as well.  You are better off dropping those people out of your life anyway because they will do nothing but hold you back.  The people you spend the most time with reinforce your belief system.  If you are spending a lot of time with victims who never quite make anything meaningful happen in their lives, you will start to pick up on their bad habits.  What you need to find are empowering people to surround yourself with.  People who encourage you, not discourage you.  People who aren’t afraid of the new you, a different you.

Playing the victim, waiting to be saved is just a naive fantasy.  You can keep doing this and living the results of that mindset, or you can move up to taking control of your life.  I’m so sick of people complaining about situations in their lives that they created and perpetuate.  It is whiny, it is repetitive, it is bordering on insanity.  If you create something, you should not be complaining about it.  By complaining, you are only perpetuating the situation you don’t want in the first place.  Why not work towards a new situation?  Why not take steps to better yourself to get yourself into a better place?  A place where you don’t need to be saved.  You can wait at that bus stop all day, but if you don’t take the first step towards saving yourself, good luck finding someone who is willing to save you.

The very mindset creates victimization.  You are throwing away your personal responsibility and placing it on something external that is supposed to come into your life and take your victim role away.  I would say you have to pick yourself up by your bootstraps, but that would make me sound like a Republican.  Which I am not.  But the sentiment is true.  You are responsible for your life, not anybody else.  People can help you through your life, but the brunt of the work is yours to bear if you want a life that you can feel good about and can take authorship of.  Stop whining and start taking action.  I’m sure what happened in the past was horrible and you don’t think you’ll ever gain closure, but you live here in the present, people.  You can change your recent past towards a new life in the next 90 days to shed this whole victim mentality and move towards a more empowered state, where you are the dictator of your life, the author.  You decide what you do, what you don’t do.  You have the power.  You just have to realize it.  And for God’s sake, stop waiting to be saved and start saving yourself.

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